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Organic Milk Buyers Switched to Plant-Based in 2017

Supermarkets make more room for plant-based milks as dairy continues to plummet while almond- and soy-based dairy alternatives boom.

A recent feature in The Wall Street Journal analyzed the consumer shift away from organic animal milk and toward plant-based dairy alternatives. Writers Heather Haddon and Benjamin Parkin relied on data from market research firm Nielsen that found that in 2017, sales of organic milk had decreased by 2.5 percent—with all animal milk decreasing by 4.5 percent—marking the first time sales for the animal product decreased since 2013. In contrast, the data showed that 2017 sales of plant-based dairy alternatives, such as soy and almond, increased by 2.9 percent. George Siemon, the CEO of the country’s largest organic dairy cooperative Organic Valley, explained that while farmers produced an oversupply of organic milk, demand did not materialize last year. “The market slowed way down,” Siemon said. “There are signals I may have missed in hindsight.” In 2016, dairy farmers purged 43 million gallons of excess dairy—which increased last year by 86 percent to an all-time high stockpile of unsold milk products. Meanwhile, the plant-based milk industry continues to boom and is set to hit an estimated value of $35 billion by 2024.

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